Tag Archives: sex

The biggest jigsaw shop in the world – a review

We were in the Lake District recently and happened across this place:

Barney's News Box Jigsaws

They’re very modest on the sign. “Probably the largest selection of jigsaws in the world” they say. Probably! And it does look like an ordinary shop from the outside.

downstairs

This is the sight that confronts you on the ground floor. Impressive. Still, you’ve perhaps seen bigger jigsaw displays elsewhere. But then you go upstairs:

upstairs

This is the view from the top of the stairs, and the point at which things get a bit overwhelming. With jigsaws piled high from floor to ceiling you might struggle to make out that narrow opening on the right there. What’s through the rabbit hole?

rabbit hole

Here I am at the centre of the cardboard cave. A place where the walls themselves are towers of terrifying puzzles and distance is as meaningless as direction. A person could lose themselves forever here. And what did I find in the furthest corner of the labyrinth? This:

Downton Abbey jigsaw

A classy extension of Downton Abbey’s brand identity there. So which other cultural forces have taken jigsaw form in this brave new world?

Twilight jigsaws

It’s Twilight’s Edward and Jacob, in Puzzleball form! £6.99 each – a bargain. Finally Bella can have both! Who else is here?

hannah montana jigsaw

It’s Disney’s Hannah Montana of course! “Made in 2D, Displayed in 3D” – will Miley Cyrus EVER be able to move on?

jigsaw names

Here’s a selection of the generic jigsaws. The size and scope of the industry that keeps crazed fans in a constant supply of fresh puzzles had never occurred to me before. What evocative names.  Blooming Cart. Proud Peacock. Gotta Love Snow! Yes, you gotta. Is there anything a bit more racy though? Well…

naughty dots jigsaw

Oh this is the stuff. Really Really (Really) Naughty Dots – Explicit Jigsaw Fun For Adults Only. It’s the future our forebears fought for. It even comes with a special pen! Mind you, how many stages of frustration do you want to put yourself through? You’ll spend hours doing the jigsaw, and then you have to do the dot-to-dots, and finally you’re supposed to get some sort of erotic thrill out of a phallus you’ve drawn yourself with a wipe-clean pen.  I suppose for some people the anticipation’s everything. Here’s something a bit gentler for a happy finish:

young farmers

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Carry On Urbanka

carry on urbanka

What happens when you take Doctor Who‘s single most innuendo-laden story and reduce it to its purest form by taking out everything but the smut? A mildly amusing YouTube edit of Four To Doomsday is what happens, and here it is:

Fifty Shades of Cup-a-Soup – the crazy world of knock-off erotic publishing

soup montageWe’ve all done it. Stumbling hungover through the supermarket looking for a packet of Cup-a Soup, you grab one from the shelf and it’s only when you get home you realise you’ve ended up with the supermarket’s own brand instead. Every successful brand attracts imitators, who’ll usually try to match the look and feel of the original packaging as closely as they can. And in books, EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is currently the biggest, most successful brand of them all. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to see THIS display in WH Smith the other day:

if you like that you'll love this!

You’ll notice that some of the original Fifty Shades books are scattered among the cuckoos, making the display as confusing as possible. So let’s find out which of the imitators have come closest to the benchmark. (Yes, I’m judging books purely by their covers. I haven’t read Fifty Shades or any of these others, and I’m not here to sneer at them either. I just marvel at the bravado of this sort of opportunistic marketing.)

books

THE Ninety Days of Genevieve

Background: The gradation from dark at the top to light at the bottom is perfect. Falls into the trap of using a pure grey rather than a bluish one though. 7/10

Font: A bit too austere 4/10

Imagery: None 0/10

Title: Ninety is an impressive step onwards from fifty, “Days” has assonance with “Shades”, and Genevieve is a name starting with G. Fair 7/10

Bonus: All the more impressive as a knock-off considering it was originally written in 1996 7/10

Total: 25/50

FIFTY SHADES OF MR DARCY

Background: Again with the over-literal grey 5/10

Font: Nasty mix of caps and italics 3/10

Imagery: The boots and riding crop are textbook 10/10

Title: Copying the whole “Fifty Shades Of” is breathtakingly audacious 8/10

Bonus: It’s all completely undercut by putting “A Parody” right on the front cover where even the slowest-brained shopper will see it 0/10

TOTAL: 26/50

EIGHTY DAYS YELLOW

Background: Much too black, but the imaginary light source is in about the right place 4/10

Font: Nicely rounded but a bit heavy 6/10

Imagery: The choice of abstract, vaguely erotic object – a violin – is nice, but it’s tacky to merge it with a human headshot 4/10

Title: “Eighty Days” is a weaker echo of “Ninety Days” (see above) but this has gone the whole hog by finishing with a colour! Yellow is a great choice but may imply piss-sex, which will put off the gentler reader. A point also docked for missing out the “Of” 8/10

Bonus: “Fun, frisky and grown-up” pull-quote 6/10

TOTAL: 28/50

12 SHADES OF SURRENDER: UNDONE

Background: The blue/grey mix is spot-on. There’s perhaps a little too much light if we’re nit-picking 9/10

Font: No-one asked for capitals. And where’s that yellow subtitle come from? 0/10

Imagery: Stiletto heels meet the “item of clothing with vaguely sexual connotations” criterion nicely 10/10

Title: “12” is a lot less than fifty, and it should be spelt out properly. “Shades” is a daring direct lift but it loses its way with “Surrender: Undone”. Show, don’t tell! 5/10

Bonus: The “Guaranteed to get you hot under the collar” pull-quote is serviceable but a bit obvious 5/10

TOTAL: 29/50 – with twenty-nine shades of grey we have our winner! Well done Mills & Boon.

Monsters at Home: Shadow of the Colossus

What keeps the sixteen colossi of the Forbidden Land going in the long years they spend sitting around waiting to be killed?

club

Shadow of the Colossus is one of the first titles that’s likely to come up in any discussion of games as art. Its narrative, its design and its melancholy themes are tied closely and cleverly together for a slow-burning emotional impact. But as ever with artistic masterpieces, much of the nitty-gritty of daily routine is skirted over and left unexplained. Let’s have a look at the monsters’ secret home lives…

WHAT DO THEY EAT?

As a player wandering around the Forbidden Land the best you’ll manage to forage is the odd lizard tail. That’s about the size of a lentil from a colossus’s perspective so clearly it wouldn’t sustain one. These vast golems who collapse into natural rubble when defeated must have to chew up and shit out great chunks of the landscape itself to keep themselves nourished. The sods.

flying

How DO THEY socialise

If you’ve played Shadow of the Colossus (and a kiss for you, loyal reader, if you haven’t and you’re still reading this) you’ll know that much of the game is taken up with long contemplative treks through the lonely lands at the edge of the world as you search for your foes. In other words they live in total isolation, and as walking prisons for splintered segments of evil energy it’s probably best they don’t mingle all at once. But what’s to stop the big flying one heading up over the plains for a nice day out? Collecting the little boar-like ones for a gentle race over one of the bridges perhaps, or organising a bit of heavy-footed dressage for the larger quadrupeds. No-one should be alone with their sorrow.

wine

What do THEY drink?

When the colossi are defeated, the evil black force sealed within them oozes out to violate our protagonist, progressively debilitating his appearance with each “victory”. On the one hand this invites us to consider the consequences and morality of a traditional heroic narrative. On the other hand it suggests to me they’ve got carried away with the red wine.

What do THEY watch on telly?

These huge lumbering creatures of stone and moss are enjoying the recent revival of Fort Boyard on Saturday mornings, although they feel the Fort is something of an under-developed character.

rock garden

What DO THEY do for fun?

The big ones with their clubs as big as towers are clearly only hoping someone will turn up and bowl them a pagoda for a nice game of rounders. The aquatic ones with their constant electrical discharges are probably just trying to generate enough power to get a soundsystem going. In fact the twelfth colossus, blasting around in the water with that nice big flat rock garden on his head, could have a promising career as a party boat if it wanted.

shadow-of-the-colussus-stab

How DO THEY reproduce?

Any speculation about the sex lives of the colossi must inevitably turn to their secret, sensitive parts – the sigils that are the key to their defeat. These ticklish, glowing areas that act as seals to their enchantment are euphemisms of the first rank. Considering that you spend the entire game sifting through fearsome tufts and ridges to locate these erogenous zones and successfully penetrate each colossus with your weapon, it’s tempting to see the whole game as a glorified Joy of Sex manual. In which case, Shadow of the Colossus’s sex lessons can be summed up by saying – hold on for as long as you can and just keep poking.

Five December talking points that aren’t Kate Middleton’s uterus

At the moment you can’t move on Twitter for people talking about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy and even more people talking about not wanting to talk about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy. So here are five alternative conversation starters to get you through the month.

Pantone book

On 13th December Pantone will announce their latest Color Of The Year. That’s right, just one nail-biting week until we finally find out if African Violet can piss all over Tender Shoots or if Linen will beat off Grayed Jade. The Citrus Sarcophagus’s sights are firmly set on Lemon Zest or Nectarine, but there’s some rather more considered analysis over at Re-Do it Design.

Nick Lachey The Winner Is

On 15th December if you’re in the Houston, TX or Philadelphia, PA areas you could go and audition for NBC’s new singing gameshow “The Winner Is. I like the name, and the convoluted phrases it’ll lead to host Nick Lachey having to say.

“And the winner of The Winner Is is…”

“Sorry, the The Winner Is winner isn’t you.”

“The The Winner Is winner Ida Winner wins Winona Ryder’s rider!”

And so on.

The Krankies and John Barrowman

19th December will be the first anniversary of our hearing the Krankies’ revelations about their “any time, anywhere” sex lives, tourbus shenanigans and swinging sessions. Oh it seemed shocking at the time, but against the increasingly unpleasant reports about other children’s entertainers this year, perhaps we can just celebrate the consensual joy of it all now. My favourite detail remains Janette’s fling with the leopard tamer and Ian’s wry comment that he knew what she’d been up to when she came home smelling of leopards. Brilliant.

the-end-of-the-world-2012

21st December is, of course, the end of the world. But let’s not let that get us down. Britney’s shown that we can dance right through it and Jay Sean’s said it might not happen at all.  And as it marks the winter solstice it’s also the traditional day for an annual viewing of K9 and Company (see last post). I don’t know about you but if we’re facing apocalypse I’m going out with an unexpected karate chop and a “Put THAT in your leader, Mr Tobias!” too.

Joey McIntyre

On 31st December Joey from New Kids On The Block will celebrate his 40th birthday. I know! The passage of time, there. Why not use the last day of the year to think about YOUR lost youth, abandoned dreams, inevitable mortality and roads generally not taken? And don’t have nightmares, readers; on the night itself – in a special government initiative – Olympic songstress Emeli Sandé will visit every British citizen’s bedside to aid restful sleep with a soothing dirge. Happy 2013!

Save the Surprise: Kat Slater and the Hand of Fear

Over in EastEnders, Kat Slater (yes, technically Kat Moon now, but like all soap characters her true name remains the one she had when the public first fell in love with her – you can keep your “Bet Gilroy”s and “Dot Branning”s, thanks) is having an affair.

Affairs are a soap’s bread and butter (check: mixed metaphor?) and so to make this one more memorable it’s been decided we shouldn’t yet find out who the secret shagger is. Instead there have been a series of remarkable scenes in which Kat pouts and drops her knickers for an unseen force. Particularly startling was the one in which it appeared as a silent shadow on the walls of the Queen Vic’s cellar. Even allowing for the ludicrous idea that any of Albert Square’s gobby residents could shut up for more than a couple of seconds, it lent the affair an odd air of telefantasy – like Sapphire and Steel if they’d left boxes of cheese and onion crisps lying around.

Since then we’ve seen her simpering at a disembodied, twitching hand and glancing guiltily at a sinister creeping FOOT from beneath the bedclothes. It’s all very exciting. Or it would be if, as viewers, we had any investment at all in wondering who it is. We’ve been presented with a series of suspects, each of whom keeps smugly fondling their phone whenever Kat composes a saucy text. But the mystery’s meaningless. ‘It’s been an affair that has left EastEnders‘ viewers playing detective,’ wrote the Daily Mail this week in a tedious article that I shan’t link to. Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s no detective game to play because there are no actual clues – each suspect is shown to be as equally likely as the others. Sure, we can guess at who it might be, but our guessing is based on what we think producers’ intentions are, not on anything generated organically from the characters. It’ll be much more interesting once it’s all out in the open and poor Jessie Wallace – an excellent actress who deserves a lot better than this – has someone to play against.

Secrecy’s pretty big on the telly this summer. EastEnders have loved a whodunnit since their first and best – the Who Got Michelle Fowler Pregnant? saga, which this current plot harks back to with the phonecalls business – but now it applies to big public events too. The audience at the dress rehearsal for the Olympics opening ceremony were asked to #SaveTheSurprise, and I’m glad they did – the two long hours of contestants proceeding in was sorely in need of the clever and moving pay-off it got with the metal petals. Meanwhile, those who saw the preview screening of Doctor Who‘s season opener were begged not to reveal that new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman appeared in it. I’m not so sure about that one – it’s not like her appearance was a big twist at the end of the episode, like River Song’s in A Good Man Goes To War or Rose’s in Partners In Crime; she was in it right from the start, and knowing that much counts as no more of a spoiler than knowing that the Daleks and their Asylum were too. The real surprise was in the exact nature of her appearance, and a press release along the lines of ‘You’ll meet the Doctor’s new companion too, but maybe not as you’d expect’ (and cue speculation) would cover that.

I don’t know, I think we’re too twitchy about spoilers generally, not that I’d ever deliberately spoil something for someone else if I could avoid it. If something’s worth watching then it can’t hinge solely on its surprises, and it should be just as enjoyable if not more so the second time around. That was true for Asylum of the Daleks, and for the Olympics opening ceremony, but sadly not, I’m afraid, for Kat Slater secretly shagging a silent cellar shadow.

Monsters at Home: Cthulhu

Cthulhu! The green, sticky spawn from the stars is HP Lovecraft’s most famous creation, a monstrous entity the mere awareness of whose existence can drive a man mad. Let’s have a look at what it gets up to in its spare time.

What does it eat?

‘A mountain walked or stumbled… a gelatinous green immensity’, writes Lovecraft. You don’t get to Cthulhu’s size on a fad diet. But how’s it been getting any food, shut away in slimy stone for untold epochs? Well the Great Old Ones aren’t composed purely of flesh and blood, we learn. Their shapes are ‘not made of matter’. So it could be absorbing all manner of other-dimensional sustenance down there in sunken R’lyeh. Preternatural French Fancies. Gibbous goujons. Daemoniac crispy pancakes.

How does it socialise

Cthulhu and its kin slumber in ‘great Cyclopean cities of Titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror… They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, for Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs.’ The ability to slump immobile at home and yet still be updated second-by-second on everything that’s going on everywhere else has only reached humanity in the last few years with the advent of Twitter. It seems  the Great Old Ones invented it untold aeons of years early.

What does it drink?

‘There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler could not put on paper. For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern.’

I don’t know about you but that sounds a lot like me if I start on the Guinness with an empty stomach.

What does it watch on telly?

Cthulhu’s home, the dread sunken city of R’lyeh, is renowned for its impossible geometry – angles that don’t meet up as they should; perspective and the known physical laws defied, that sort of thing. For that reason it stays glued to Coronation Street – a street in which, in case you’ve never noticed, the Rovers Return toilets can only possibly exist if they’re in the same physical space as the Barlows’ living room.

What does it do for fun?

‘Mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.’

Zumba, basically.

How does it reproduce?

We hear in At The Mountains Of Madness about Cthulhu’s prehuman spawn, a race of cosmic octopi who filtered down from infinity and waged war with the starfish-headed people of the Antarctic. I was watching a nice documentary about octopi on Discovery the other night. Their little eggs were lovely. Cthulhu’s spawning would probably be on the grim side though – with Lovecraft everything’s Stygian, or unnameable, or noisome. So I draw a veil. Just don’t Google Image search ‘octopus sex’ as I just did. Really. Don’t.